On October 30, 2014, the Ontario government made a bold announcement.
Fresh off a majority win in the June election, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals were about to complete a plan, set out many years ago, to change what is taught to children about health and physical education [H&PE]. Standing in a Guelph elementary classroom, they stated that “…an up-to-date, relevant and appropriate health and physical education curriculum is needed now more than ever,” and promised that a new curriculum would be in place “…for the start of the 2015 fall term.” 1
You need to know that the curriculum they’re referring to is the sexual health component of the H&PE document. This component was proposed in 2010 in a full revision of the curriculum, but was rejected for being overtly graphic and not age appropriate (more on that in the next section).
In an effort to show that the new curriculum has support of Ontario parents, the government allowed one parent from each public school to answer an online survey between November 12-28, 2014.2 These 4000 parents were not shown the new curriculum; they were to simply answer 10 questions in order to “share their perspectives on the Human Growth and Sexual Health Component of the…curriculum.3 Also, these parents weren’t selected at random the way a proper study requires. According to the memo that went to all school board directors, parents had to be a member of a school’s parent council and were to be hand-picked by the principal.4
By now you’re probably asking the same questions many others are asking, like
- How can parents comment on the curriculum if they haven’t seen it?
- How can one parent from each school sum up how all other parents feel?
- Why is the process so secretive when the schools are supposed to be public?
- How is it the government’s role to decide what is “appropriate” for kids to learn?
You need to know that the opportunity for direct parental input is over, and the government has said this curriculum will be in place for the 2015 fall term. There’s no law to appeal, nothing to vote against and no way any petition will get our majority government to change its mind.
1 Keith Leslie. “Ontario Liberals to introduce updated version of sex education curriculum pulled in 2010 over religious objections” The National Post, October 30, 2014. Accessed November 28, 2014. http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/30/ontario-liberals-to-introduce-updated-version-of-sex-education-curriculum-pulled-in-2010-over-religious-objections/
2 Ontario. Ministry of Education. Parent Consultation on the Human Development and Sexual Health Component of the Elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) Curriculum via Online Survey. George Zegarac, Deputy Minister. October 30, 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/memos/oct2014/Oct2014DM.pdf
3 ibid. p. 1.
4 Ontario. Ministry of Education. Background Information for Parents Health and Physical Education (HPE) Curriculum, Grades 1–8 Human Development and Sexual Health. [Queen’s Printer for Ontario], 2014. Accessed December 22, 2014. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/new/2014/memo1030.pdf p. 1.